New and Debut feature is back, on Friday and today it's my pleasure to introduce to you Daria Defore, author of LGBT romance. Her debut novel, The Trouble, was published in the end of last year by Less Than Three Press. Read on for a short interview with her,a s well as an exclusive excerpt from her upcoming queer fantasy Sparkwood, coming out on Feb 15.
1. Tell us about yourself and why did you decide to become a romance writer?
Hi! I’m Daria, and I’m a Washington state transplant who recently moved to New York City. I came into writing romance from writing — or reading, really — fanfiction. I am drawn to romance because of those elements it shares with the fanfiction I grew up with: whatever the heck kind of plot you want, plus scintillating tension between interesting characters.
Growing up, I thought the only avenue for publishing queer fiction would be self-publishing, or writing fanfiction. Then I went to the Gay Romance Northwest conference in Seattle and realized the world was exploding with queer publishing houses. My best friend (Austin Chant!) and I were writing stories together at the time, and I think we both just realized, hey, we could make a go of this.It feels wild now to look back on that time when we literally thought there were no other options for queer romance. Like, what were we thinking? But that just speaks to the need for more visibility for these presses, because I know there are tons of people out there, like me, who want to read these books and just don’t know they exist.
2. Can you share some of your favourite books and authors?
So this is no surprise if you've ever spoken to me, but I adore KJ Charles. I got into her by consuming Think of England over the course of one night (I am not a fast reader by any means, so for me this remains A Feat). After I finished Sparkwood, I reread Think of England as a treat to myself, and my God—every piece of dialogue in that book is fantastic. It took me twice as long to read because I was lovingly doubling over every paragraph, making sure I had read it with the exact right inflection in my mind.
Jackdaw is another favorite from KJ Charles, because it's ultimately about flawed characters making homes for themselves. It's brimming with emotion and I flail when I reread it.
Be My Fantasy by Alisha Rai is painfully, stupefyingly hot. It has a couple exploring D/s-based fantasies and it's just exquisitely filthy, no shying away from it. Loved it.
In the same vein, Straight Shooter by Heidi Belleau has a bi MC who is turned on by humiliation. He's also, you know, figuring out that he's not straight and going about it in the worst, most self-destructive way. I love garbage-fire main characters, and this one is out to ruin his own life. I love the balancing act that Belleau pulls off here, writing a really fraught story that's still very sexy.
The Enlightenment trilogy by Joanna Chambers, which starts with Provoked, is an epic Scottish regency romance that had me yelling and flailing as I devoured page after page, too eager to find out what would bring the main characters together — or push them apart.
3. Who/what do you consider your writing influence/inspiration?
Agatha Christie’s mysteries are legendary, and I love them. I still can’t believe one person could write so many books in their lifetime. I’ve been reading Agatha Christie since I was a tween, and I’m nowhere near close to reading her whole bibliography. I admire her ability to balance huge casts of characters, while writing such snappy, concise murder mysteries. A lot of them scared the crap out of me!
On the fantasy side, I love Garth Nix’s Abhorsen series. His world-building grabbed me, and I absolutely ripped him off when I was fifteen and writing (bad) fantasy. I want to create settings as fascinating as Nix’s Old Kingdom, and creatures as horrifying as… well, all his horrible creations.
When it comes to marrying all this together, I have to call out KJ Charles again. I love what she does with mystery and romance in Think of England, and fantasy and romance (and mystery!) in her Magpie series.
4. What kind of stories can the readers expect from you (contemporary/historical/sci-fi, adult/NA/YA, etc)?
Ooh boy, a year ago I would’ve had a totally different answer to this! I’ve been writing contemporary for a long time. It's easier for me to find comedy in contemporary scenarios, I think (and being funny is Very Important to me). But I grew up reading fantasy and murder mysteries, and those themes have become a focus of my planned projects.
My upcoming books could both be summarized as, “oh no, I have a magical boyfriend.” One is a contemporary fantasy murder mystery (Sparkwood! More on that later), and the other is a historical fantasy with ghosts and demons. Uh, no literal demon-kissing in this one though. Maybe. Kinda.
I’m not totally done with straight-up contemporary (I have an aromantic contemporary F/F story on the back-burner), and of course my fantasy projects will still have comedy. I guess that’s the common thread between them. That and throwing together characters who are polar opposites and watching the chaos that ensues.
5. Please, introduce your latest/upcoming release.
My upcoming book, Sparkwood, is about a guy named Finn who just wants an aggressively normal life. Of course, that’s practically impossible. He grew up in Sparkwood, a small town that shares its forest with a city of fairies. He’s bisexual. And he’s a twin—only, his twin brother has just been found dead.
It’s a contemporary fantasy murder mystery, with a cis m/m romance plot. Finn goes looking for someone to hold responsible for his brother’s death, and along the way he runs into Robin: an equally prickly, angry, queer guy who also happens to be a fairy. Together they conduct a rather inept murder investigation, strike unbreakable deals, get into magical trouble, and more shenanigans.
Sparkwood is coming out on February 15, 2017! It’s part of LT3’s enemies-to-lovers collection, My Dearest Enemy (along with Peter Darling, from my friend Austin Chant!).
Finn has never trusted faeries, so it's no surprise to him when his twin brother turns up dead, probably by magical means. What he doesn't expect is an invitation to the funeral—in the faery realm—and a chance to find out who killed him.
Investigating Luke's death is probably the stupidest thing Finn has ever done, and soon he's up to his neck in faery trouble. In the midst of it all is Robin, the faery who's supposed to be watching out for him—but who just might have had something to do with Luke's death.
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Pre-order links: Less Than Three Press
Add to Goodreads
Pre-order links: Less Than Three Press
At one in the morning, Finn woke to a figure standing over him. It was completely dark, minus the red light of his digital clock, and Finn was sure he was going to die.
He had spent most of his life facing off against people who wanted to hurt him on the football field. He couldn't count the times he'd charged headlong into guys his size or bigger and taken them down with pure momentum.
Yet somehow, his first instinct was to grab his pillow and throw it. It hit the dark silhouette square in the head. A muffled yelp followed, and Finn gathered his legs under him and launched.
They both dropped like sacks of potatoes, with Finn pinning the smaller person underneath him and provoking a clear cry of pain. In football, that would've been the end of it. The ref would whistle and they'd all get into position for the next play.
Finn lashed out with his fist.
It hit skin with a smack. Then he scrambled to his feet and raced to the living room.
Julie was still asleep on the couch, and she didn't even twitch when Finn tripped to his knees and shook her.
"Julie, wake up!"
She didn't move, her face slack with sleep. A hand closed on Finn's shoulder and he struck out, fists swinging.
"Mr. Bricket—" Whatever the intruder was going to say was stopped short as Finn's fist collided with what must have been his sternum. He grunted. Finn's knuckles hurt like hell, but he powered to his feet.
This time, the intruder caught Finn's swing in a surprisingly tight grip. Finn lunged forward, trying to use his weight to bring them back to the floor, but instead found himself being dragged across the room and slammed into the wall so hard that the air whooshed from his lungs. Pain blossomed in his wrist, where the intruder was now squeezing him with icy fingers.
His fist stopped in mid-air. He couldn't move it anymore. Then a real hand, a cold one, grabbed him and pinned that wrist to the wall, too. Finn's size advantage seemed to count for nothing.
"Listen to me," the intruder insisted. His voice was soft, and it made Finn's skin crawl.
"Did you kill her?"
There as a notable pause before the intruder asked in disbelief, "What?" Something popped, like wood in a fireplace, and light shone straight into Finn's eyes.
Finn's lip curled. The man pinning him to the wall was indeed a good foot smaller than him, with a delicate face and hair that glinted red in the flickering ball of light hovering next to his raised hand. The fairy from the diner. His glassy black eyes sent chills down Finn's spine.
"What did you do to my friend?" Finn croaked. "The girl on the couch."
"She's asleep. This needs to be a private discussion."
"Private? You could privately murder me in my sleep if it's so fucking important."
"I didn't kill her, and I'm not going to kill you." The fairy's narrow brows furrowed in annoyance. Perfect. Didn't all the kidnapping stories start with saying the wrong thing to a fairy? And Finn had hurt him, too. A purple bruise was starting to show on the fairy's right cheek.
"You're hurting my wrist." As Finn's adrenaline faded, the ache became clearer. His wrist pulsed under the fairy's cold grip. It was like being restrained by an ice pack.
But the fairy ignored him; he was taking in the unholy mess that surrounded them. Julie and Finn had added empty beer bottles to the junk that filled the house. The fairy nudged a fallen book with his foot, then glared at Finn.
"What were you doing with his things?"
"Throwing them in the garbage."
The fairy bristled, whether at Finn's tone or his words, he couldn't tell. "Clem, come in here."
He had barely raised his voice, but the front door opened and the fairy woman—Clem, whom he also recognized from the diner—came in. Her eyebrows rose at the sight of Finn pinned to the wall.
"Robin, that's a bit unnecessary."
"He hit me."
"I'm sure he won't do it again."
"I thought you were here to kill me," Finn gritted out, "because that's what people think when you break in in the middle of the night and watch them sleep." Robin let go of his wrists, and Finn fell to his knees with a thud. A heavy, invisible pressure settled on his legs. "Ow—"
"I think I would like him questioned after all," Robin said.
Author Bio and Links
Daria Defore is a writer by night, and a video producer by day. She's been writing ever since she was a kid, and vividly remembers that her first story was about visiting Santa Claus and getting a pet dinosaur. Now she writes filthy romance instead.
Daria is a Washington transplant living in New York City. She has a tendency to set stories in her beautiful home state. She loves reading, cups of coffee in multiples of ten, and being bullied to write more.